Kings of Paradise by Richard Nell
Ebook. 601 pages.
I am making room on my (metaphorical) big league fantasy author shelf and clearing out a space for Richard Nell, because Kings of Paradise was absolutely incredible. This book was everything I didn't know I wanted, and I am so incredibly impressed by it and what Nell has managed to accomplish in such a unique and unexpected way.
This book is a huge, complex story that makes it extremely hard for me succinctly review without writing a small essay, but I am going to try my best to do so. In brief: I loved this book, and since I don't a better way to begin this review, we're just diving in.
Kings of Paradise centers around three main characters whose perspectives are alternated throughout the book. There are many other characters in this book--seriously, I made a list of people I thought were important and it is long--so I'm just focusing on our main ones: Ruka, Kale, and Dala. Up first is Ruka, a coldhearted, or rather, heartless, beast of a boy who actually starts out as a fairly normal boy, but due to circumstances in his life slowly turns into a ruthless man. I loved reading his descent into the man he is at the end of the story; it was fascinating and horrible, but also oddly understandable. The way Nell wrote about Ruka's feelings and revelations in the beginning of the book were incredible, and I actually found myself highlighting huge passages that I knew I wanted to add to my long list of saved book quotes. Ruka's journey in this book takes a lot of turns and I found myself engaged in every one. He was truly an unpredictable character and I really couldn't guess at any point what he would do next. If you like really morally questionable characters, Ruka is your man.
The next character we meet is Kale, the youngest son of the King of Sri Kon. Although I loved all of the characters, Kale was probably the most entertaining and engaging characters. Kale is sort of 'expendable' in the sense that his other brothers hold higher statuses and Kale is just sort of... there. His father, of course, still has plans for him, but he's not the immediate heir or anything and therefore not as useful. He's also a little rebellious, but he's rebellious in a somewhat responsible and clever manner (you'll figure out what I mean
The third character I'd like to mention in some detail is Dala, a character that I wasn't sure how I felt about at first, but slowly grew on me and I loved by the end. I most admire Dala's strength and clear frame of mind. This is a girl who knows what she wants and knows--or will figure out--what she needs to get it. She is not without her faults, and her methods of obtaining what she wants are not generally honorable (another morally questionable character), but that only makes her more compelling. A common trait that ran amongst all three of these characters seemed to be their cleverness, which is a trait that I always like explored among protagonists, especially when the cleverness is used in unique ways. The rest of the characters in this book are just as well-drawn and interesting as the three main protagonists, and I think that is one area where Nell really excelled in this his writing; the chemistry and varying personalities were all done so well.
The plot in Kings of Paradise is pretty wide-ranging and I'm not sure I can nicely sum it up, but suffice to say it's incredibly well-written and will absolutely make it hard for you to even put this book down. This is the sort of plot that really takes its time to fully unfold and is honestly fairly slow-paced when looked back on as a whole, but it doesn't feel slow. There is constantly something happening in this book so I was never bored, but Nell still really took his time in slowly building up his world and characters. That, I think is the best aspect of this book: Nell writes in a way that lets the reader see every aspect of his characters and watch as they develop throughout the book, much in the same way the world itself is slowly explained and we understand how everything works. The three different perspectives seemed so incredibly separate at first that I was honestly unsure how they would ever fit together, and then, somehow, they just did. Some seamless force (Richard Nell) came in and slowly started picking up every loose thread and tying it quietly to another loose thread and suddenly everything fell into place.
Overall, I was floored by Kings of Paradise. The character were fascinating, the plot was strong, the world was huge and detailed, and I just think everyone should read this book. Five stars! I'm no seer, but I see great things in both Richard Nell's and Kings of Paradise's futures.
*I received a copy of Kings of Paradise courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review. This book was part of TBRindr. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*
Buy the book: Amazon